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Park softball: Wolfpack stymies Stillwater

Park freshman pitcher Hanna Mortenson threw a gem against Hastings, but the Wolfpack fell 1-0. However, Park rebounded with a 7-4 win over Stillwater. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)

It was a soggy week for the Wolfpack softball team, but Park didn’t let the rain get them down.

Park split a pair of Suburban East Conference games, beating Stillwater 7-4 on Friday, May 2, at home, after battling Hastings to a 1-0 loss on the road on Thursday.

Park opened up a 4-2 lead on Stillwater (4-5; 4-5 SEC) after two innings at Charlie Whitbred Field in Cottage Grove, then held on for the win.

Stillwater got to senior starting pitcher Amber Galloway right away in the top of the first inning, scoring two runs on three hits and one error. However, Galloway rallied her troops when the inning finished, calling for her team to “answer back,” after being down 2-0.

Galloway’s words of wisdom did not fall on deaf ears as the Wolfpack bats knocked in three runs of their own for a 3-2 lead after the first inning. In the first, junior shortstop Rachel Suter belted a double into the right-center gap. Sophomore third baseman Gwen Warling followed with a sharp ground ball to second which advanced Suter to third. After Galloway walked to set up a first and third for Park, senior Molly Swanson drilled a double down the left field line to score Suter and advance Galloway to third. Senior Paige Hill stepped to the plate and immediately lined a single up the middle to plate both Galloway and Swanson putting the Wolfpack up 3-2.

Galloway settled down on the mound as she mowed down the Ponies hitters the rest of the way.

Park kept padding its lead by scoring single runs in the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to earn the win 7-4. Leading the way with two hits apiece for the Wolfpack were Flack, Suter, Warling, Autumn Mortenson, as well as Hill’s two hits and three RBIs.

“We have been stating it all year,” Park head coach Bob Loshek said. “We will always have a chance if we pitch well and play a good, solid game defensively.”

The win came less than 24 hours before Park’s prom, which had Loshek nervous.

“I wasn’t sure what kind of game we were going to see out of the girls today,” he said. “It was anyone’s guess. Afterwards, the first thing I said to the girls was, ‘That was the best I have ever seen a team play before the prom. Now let’s keep it going into sections one week from now.”

In the game prior, Park and Hastings played their last-ever head-to-head game in the Suburban East Conference. Next year, Hastings moves to the Metro East Conference.

With the cold rain falling heavily at times, as well as the wind howling in from left field, the Wolfpack and Raiders’ rivalry came to a close. Even though the temps hovered around freezing, the Wolfpack bats came out hot to start the first couple of innings. Park’s first six hitters each had a line drive out. Though they came out aggressively to begin the game, the Wolfpack had nothing to show for it in the runs column.

“We came out and hit line drive after line drive,” Loshek said. “Our girls really wanted this one.”

As much as Park tried to plate a run for their starter in the circle, freshman Hanna Mortenson, they just couldn’t break through. One run may have been all the Wolfpack hitters needed, because Mortenson threw a gem on this particular day. The right-hander used her defense to continually get out of jams against the Raiders hitters, holding Florida International recruit Mikala Mills hitless on the day.

“Hanna pitched extremely well,” Loshek said. “That was the best she has pitched here in her short two-year stint. We left a couple of runners in scoring position today. When you play a tough team in Hastings, in order to win, you have to find a way to push one of those runs across.”

The game stayed scoreless into the bottom of the seventh, when with two outs and runners on first and third for the Raiders, Mortenson got a ground ball that looked to end the inning, but an error led to a 1-0 win for the home team.

“Our defense played outstanding behind Hanna today,” Loshek said. “We didn’t lose because of one play. We lost because we didn’t plate any runs. If we play defense like that from here on out, we will be all right.”

Park has a busy week with double-headers on Monday and Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to print, and a single game with Roseville on the docket for Wednesday on the road. Park is set to finish up the week at home with Senior Night on Friday against intra-district foe East Ridge.

-Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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